A chapbook came in the mail, just the other day: “Tooth Fairy,” from Brandon Brown. I read it yesterday and today on my miserable little commute: it was just what I needed. I identified. I laughed. I didn’t cry, exactly, except maybe a little, you know, “inside.” Because of the identification-about-workaday-alienation thing, and because there was some leftover crying from the photos in the NY Times of the Haitian immigrant who went to his local representative’s office seeking information about his family in Port-au-Prince. In the first photo he is sitting at a desk, looking rumpled and worried; in the next, he is collapsed on the floor, being given water to drink from a Styrofoam cup, having learned that his wife and three children had died. Oh… unimaginable…
It’s maybe not properly Adorno-ian to say that poetry is a consolation, but isn’t it? What do people who don’t need poetry need instead (I mean, those people who are fortunate enough not to be the victims of disastrous upheavals in poor and crowded cities in developing countries)? How can they not need it?
I have a great need, desperate really, to fall into other people’s rhythmic insights and imaginations. And Bro can WRITE. The poems are robust, snappy, galloping, taking off from O’Hara, sure, but liberally seasoned with wry resentment and amusing obvious Freud-ish equations of feces and money. There is also a lot of corn in this book, literal corn (BB is Midwestern, after all), and also some figurative corn, but it is so hi-quality that it might be better characterized as wit. Other recurring themes: snot, coke, bills, and lack.
There are lots of great lines, but they are better not isolated out of the poems, which, like the posts on BB’s blog, have a wonderful forward-moving energy. If you go to his blog you can order a copy (and for $10 you will get two more chapbooks besides). I recommend that you do.